NBA Playoff Predictions: Predicting the Outcome of Every Round
It is commonplace for everyone who writes to carry an opinion. Whether they are right or wrong, biased or not, people have a view on what the future holds. In college basketball, it truly is March Madness in trying to figure out what is going to happen when the tournament begins.
That is not the same when it comes to the NBA. There is the one series (possibly two) that don't go according to plan. After that, what is expected to happen by the majority far and wide usually happens. I expect this season to be another one based on majority winning.
The Playoff seedings can still fluctuate at this time, but we are starting to narrow in on how things should look when the 82 game season is completed. I am basing my seeds on this weekend's listings. So for any of you who think San Antonio is going to lose every game they have left this season and lost the No. 1 seed, hold off on that assessment.
(1) San Antonio Spurs over (8) Memphis Grizzlies
This series can be summed up in one name: Rudy Gay. Yes, I understand that Michael Conley Jr. has improved and Zach Randolph again has played like an All-Star, but Rudy Gay isn't there. That is the biggest issue or concern for the Grizz. The Spurs have been struggling of late, but when the postseason begins, they will have the luxury of time between games and that should be a huge bonus for their older players such as Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess and Manu Ginobili.
Series: Spurs in 5
(1) Chicago Bulls over (8) Indiana Pacers
Is there any reason to go against the future MVP Derrick Rose? The Pacers have struggled with mediocrity this whole season despite having decently high hopes entering the season. The trio of Granger, Collison and Hibbert aren't household names yet and this series might give them a chance to be known. I won't get ahead of myself, as even though this is a Central division matchup, the rivalry is lacking. The Pacers can't outscore or out defend the Bulls, thy can just hang around, for a small amount of time.
Series: Bulls in 5
(2) L.A. Lakers over (7) New Orleans Hornets
The Lakers are still no matter what anyone says the best team in the NBA. Even without taking in their extremely hot play since the All-Star break, they are the most talented team around. With David West gone, the Hornets might be the least talented team left, at least in the West. The loss of West is huge as he is one of the most overlooked players in the game today. It will take a huge effort from Emeka Okafor just to stay in these games and I don't see that happening.
Series: Lakers in 4
(2) Boston Celtics over (7) New York Knicks
Each team might have what is considered a big three plus in an extra fourth member in Boston. The difference between these two big three's is that one knows how to win, while the other is learning. I don't believe New York is going to be able to learn in time for the Playoffs. The Celtics are a seasoned, tough team that wills themselves to victory doing whatever is needed. K.G. is still down low to give his heart and passion on to his teammates. The production that comes from players not named Amar'e or Carmelo will be telling for the Knicks. The Knicks have the ability to win a couple at home, but that is about it.
Series: Celtics in 6
(3) Miami Heat over (6) Philadelphia 76ers
Now this is a series that is intriguing many people based on the push the 76ers have made since the All-Star break. Iggy and Brand are playing great basketball as a surprise to many people and they might be able to push the Heat a little bit. The Sixers have to believe that Thaddeus Young can continue to grow in this series if they hope to get past the Heat. The power of Wade and James in the end should the 76ers no matter how well they do. I expect a big series from Dwyane Wade that will cause headaches for the Philly backcourt.
Series: Heat in 6
(6) Portland Trail Blazers over (3) Dallas Mavericks
It happened to Dallas last year and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again this year. Dallas is a higher seed playing a lower seed who is better than their seed indicates.
(4) Orlando Magic over (5) Atlanta Hawks
Dominique Wilkins might need to get a shot in to help the Hawks pull off this series win. Kirk Hinrich has been brought in to add a toughness at the point which they felt was an upgrade from Mike Bibby, but that's not the answer. They need Jason Collins and their other big men to step up. Not that they will be able to shut down Dwight Howard, just that they might to limit him somewhat. The Magic shooters should still be able to get good looks. It always comes down to Josh Smith and I just don't have faith in him.
Series: Magic in 6
(4) OKC Thunder over (5) Denver Nuggets
I'm still not sure what to expect of Denver, but you never know what you'll get from George Karl in the Playoffs. He's been a No. 1 seed and lost in the first round (1993-1994) and also had gritty teams hang around in series they had no business playing in. The Nuggets are deep enough and have a continuity that makes them dangerous. My only question is who will take the reigns at the end of the game for Denver when Durant is taking over for the Thunder. I don't know and that is what pushes me to Oklahoma City.
Series: Thunder in 6
(4) OKC Thunder over (1) San Antonio Spurs
Here's the one series I see going out of the normal way of things. The addition of Kendrick Perkins is the difference maker for me in this series. His ability to hold down the low post should cause a myriad of issues for San Antonio's big men including Tim Duncan. This should cause a lack of interior scores for Tony Parker as well shutting down a major part of the Spurs offense. The growth and maturity of Russell Westbrook and James Harden should flourish in this series. It should be a tight one, but I'm leaning on the side of youth.
Series: Thunder in 6
(1) Chicago Bulls over (4) Orlando Magic
Can Dwight Howard alone power the Magic into the ECF? Where is the help going to come from in Orlando? Jason Richardson? Gilbert Arenas? hedo Turkoglu? There are just too many questions marks with the Magic when it comes to playing a solid squad like the Bulls. The Bulls are solid in every aspect of their team. I see too many holes in the Orlando Magic as a team. This could be another earlier than expected leave for Dwight Howard.
Series: Bulls in 5
(2) L.A. Lakers over (6) Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers should play tough defense, but I have a feeling that won't be enough. This feels like a series where having Greg Oden in there (healthy) could make a world of a difference competitively. The size with which the Lakers have should be a force inside and open up many shots for Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes and the rest of the outside shooters for the Lake show. It will be good to see if Gerald Wallace can make a major impact against the Lakers with his new team. All in all, it might be entertaining with the Lakers overpowering the Blazers.
Series: Lakers in 5
(2) Boston Celtics over (3) Miami Heat
This is the hardest series for me to pick a winner in and I am using the Heat's lack of a supporting cast around the big three to pick a winner.
Yes, the Miami Heat have Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They will make an impact for sure. The problem I have is who is going to help them out. A banged up Mike Miller, the old men down low in Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Juwan Howard? I just don't see it.
Even though Boston got smaller inside and have had injuries from their big men they shouldn't be getting killed by Miami's big men. The Boston four should be able to slice inside on drives and kick out for open shots. The C's takes this series in a close one.
Series: Celtics in 7
(2) L.A. Lakers over (4) OKC Thunder
This is where the mettle of Kevin Durant should be tested. The depth and experience of the Lakers should be a great test for these young Thunder. They played last year against each other in the Playoffs and gave the Lakers a true opponent. They should be able to give an even tougher challenge this year with the addition of Kendrick Perkins who gives the Lakers fits based on his past play against them. Still, these are the Lakers and their depth and experience should hold off a rowdy and boisterous OKC bunch.
Series: Lakers in 6
(2) Boston Celtics over (1) Chicago Bulls
It's hard going against the Celtics in the Playoffs even with how well Derrick Rose has led his squad this year. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer have to be major forces for the Bulls to be able to take this series away from Boston. Derrick Rose will give what is needed for Chicago and that's expected. What is not known is how well the bench will show up for Chicago and most importantly the shooting gurad position. I think the bench including Glen Davis will be the deciding factor again for the Celtics in a series and get them over the hump back into the NBA Finals.
Series: Celtics in 6
NBA Finals: (2) L.A. Lakers over (2) Boston Celtics
Like the 1987 Finals pitted the Lakers and Celtics one last time against each other in the Finals, I expect the same to happen this year. Both teams will be gunning for one another and the matchup of Shaq vs. Kobe should be in the background. Both team have history and playing each other two out of the last three years in the Finals will add more drama.
No matter what statistics or feel I have about the game, Phil Jackson's history is the biggest factor in this series. I felt like the Lakers would win the title before the year began and I want to stick to that story. A fourth three-peat should be on its way and Kobe will win his third Finals MVP trophy. It might be a competitive series, but unless you're an L.A. fan, you'll be left unsatisfied.
Series: Lakers in 6